"If you look at HBO and FX, there's a big focus on Emmys," he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "Emmys don't necessarily create return on investment. Those types of shows play to the coasts. I want to be able to create great programming that creates buzz that is accessible to middle America."
Liguori was talking about television viewers. But to political obsessives, when someone talks about the coasts and middle America, what's left unsaid but very much implied is "liberal elites" versus "flyover country" -- red states versus blue states. But does TV really break down that way, and is getting a "return on your investment" as easy as putting together red-state-friendly shows like "Duck Dynasty" or a Ronald Reagan biopic?
Not necessarily. Below are the seven most-viewed primetime network shows for the week ending May 3, according to Zap2it. For six of the seven -- all except for "The Big Bang Theory" -- the top-rated show, Democratic viewers outnumber Republican ones, according to another set of data from 2012.
In fact, according to the fall 2014 GfK-MRI Survey of the American Consumer, a slightly larger percentage of TV viewers identify as Democratic than Republican, about 34 percent to 31 percent, respectively, with about 31 percent identifying as either independent or having no party affiliation (numbers that echo America as a whole). There are other highly rated shows that skew Republican, including "The Blacklist" and "NCIS," but when it comes to the top-rated shows, their audiences lean a little to the left.
Entertainment Weekly and Experian Marketing Services looked at the most Republican and Democratic shows in January. The full list is interesting and worth looking at, if you're into that sort of thing, but here's a sampling of shows from their list with the highest percentage of their audience that identified with a party, according to the GfK survey.
Republicans are more likely to watch "Duck Dynasty," which we knew, and "Scandal" and "Project Runway" have very Democratic audiences, which also makes sense, given the thrust of the shows. But who knew that HGTV, with its "Love It Or List It" and "House Hunters," was so beloved by Republicans? Or that "Glee" is so evenly divided (independents did not watch that show, it turns out)?
The data show reaching "middle America" on TV isn't a simple red state-blue state thing. We're a lot more of a purple country than dual-color presidential election maps can show, with coastal Republicans who enjoy Emmy-winning shows and "flyover country" Democrats watching "The Voice," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Survivor." For television executives who want to reach a wide audience, that means attracting viewers of all political persuasions.
David Barie contributed to this post.